Electroluminscent wire is often used on party-shirts or to decorate other wearables.

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They come with little "EL Inverters" that run on 3-12V DC power.

EL Inverter

I measured the output voltage that's output into the wire and it's about 150V AC power.

I wonder if these are safe to wear, especially on party shirts which may get wet or sweaty or if it's just plain stupid to do so.

What are the safety considerations of EL Wire?


closed as too broad by Lundin, brhans, RoyC, evildemonic, Warren Hill May 29 at 7:11

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Post schematics or at least pictures of the electronics. These would fall under the same safety regulations as any other electronics. But nobody can answer the question "is some sort of voltage safe". \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin May 22 at 10:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are they CE marked or maybe some other recognized stamp of safety approval? \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka May 22 at 10:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ These pics don't say a thing, that's not what I meant. To answer, we need to know the schematics or specification of the electronics. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin May 22 at 11:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ To speculate in general terms, a brief Google on these and reading their Declaration of Conformity suggest that most such items on the market are very much illegal. The relevant part in Europe would be compliance to the LVD directive. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin May 22 at 11:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Regulations depend on country. The LVD directive is European legislation. USA has different rules. Etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Lundin May 22 at 11:39

Practically, this is going to draw less than a few mA from the batteries and then steps the voltage up to the 150V so there's not going to be much remaining current capacity which is why the people who market it feel they can get away with it. When I worked with EL wire I trusted the wire plenty, but stayed clear of the connector when the device was on. You should feel free to start playing around, building with it and light duty use. The above encouragement to test against safety standards before incorporated in a product or abusing it in cases that might damage it is a good idea.

Even cheap EL drivers keep you safe by isolating the input and output with a transformer. They shouldn't present a conductive path between the input and output. A single failure in the insulation on the high voltage output will expose you to high voltage, but doesn't injure you because it doesn't find a path to ground even if you're handling the low voltage side. (This is a good thing to check before use and after abuse testing. We use "High Potential" testers that place 1000V on a probe and test to see if it is able to arc over through something like this indicating some sort of failure in the isolation barrier. A multimeter can be used to perform a less stringent version of the test by verifying that there's a high resistance between the input and output leads) As long as the device is isolated, it's 2 failures away from disaster rather than one.

  • \$\begingroup\$ what would these two failures be and how would the disaster look like? \$\endgroup\$ – user1282931 May 22 at 16:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ the insulation would have to fail on both sides of the high voltage circuit coil, so perhaps each of the output leads or the connector they run into would have to fail allowing your body to make electrical contact with the conductors. Then they could give you a painful shock, which could complicate or create cardiac health problems if it were to flow into one hand and out the other. \$\endgroup\$ – Andrew Macrae May 22 at 16:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is operating at 400-2KHz. Will it pass through body? \$\endgroup\$ – Indraneel May 22 at 16:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ The high frequency high voltage on these systems can sometimes give a painful, but safe shock with only a single point of electrical contact by effectively charging and discharging the body. If you see metal on the output side, don't touch it. Turn it off and insulate it properly. \$\endgroup\$ – Andrew Macrae May 22 at 17:06

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